Starting with “bagel” and ending with “furlough,” area middle-schoolers worked their way through the regional spelling bee final.
Bringing the top spellers from preliminary bees back to Avon Middle School on Friday, the final bee had a false start after round one. Judges ruled that noise from the other side of the gym potentially had distracted participants and those eliminated in round one would be brought back for round two.
After that, the eight rounds of the night went smoothly.
The night ended with Joel Greenly, the champion of the first-round preliminary bee, winning the regional title. Joel, 14, an eighth-grader at Midview Middle School, said he knew he would get far, but winning was a surprise.
“I’m just amazed. I wanted to be here and I didn’t know if I could, and I guess I could,” he said.
“I think I got lucky, I got some good words, I knew most of them. If I had gotten some of the other words the other contestants had gotten, I might not have been so lucky.”
It came down to Joel and Yashvita Kanuganti, 13, an eighth-grader from Learwood Middle School. Yashvita misspelled “efficacy” during the final round — but she’s not disappointed with runner-up.
“I wasn’t expecting it, to say the least,” she said. “I’m really excited. I thought I’d get pretty far, but not in the top two.”
Her coach, Emily Lee, is excited, too.
“I’m very excited for her, she worked really hard. We would meet together after school every Friday for an hour. And she’s an eighth-grader so we don’t have the same schedule, so we had to make time after school to work together so we could practice, and she showed commitment and came after school every Friday.”
Joel will now go to Washington, D.C., for the 91st Scripps National Spelling Bee the week of May 28. He’s the third Middie to make it to the national bee.
“This has never been done before. There’s no precedent, so we’ll have to figure it out,” she laughed. But she said she’s impressed with Joel nonetheless.
But it was Joel’s mother, Cheryl Greenly, of Elyria, who couldn’t stop smiling.
“I think my heart’s beating really, really fast, we worked really hard and I think he’s the best kid — I mean he’s just so calm, cool and collected. I’m very proud of him,” Greenly said. “I prayed about it and I thought about it, but it’s different to actually have it happen — I can’t stop smiling. I think it’s going to be wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
The 35th annual regional spelling bee was sponsored by the Educational Service Center of Lorain County and The Chronicle-Telegram.
This story has been edited to reflect the following correction: Joel Greenly was previously identified as the first Midview student to go to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. In fact, he is the third. In 1991, eighth-grader Judd Wheatley went and in 2004, seventh-grader Philip Kaiser went to the national bee.
Contact Carissa Woytach at 329-7155 or firstname.lastname@example.org.